Okay, so I know it's been a month..but try not to hate me? Hope you guys enjoy the chapter!
My heeled foot tapped idly as I checked the time again growing more and more impatient. He was late. He was late for our first Thursday meeting and it was pissing me off.
The last few days had allowed me to get settled into my new life in Pittsburgh and feel more comfortable in my job but it was no less strange to not be living in the heart of the hustle and bustle that New York City had provided me for the first 24 years of my life.
Still, to remind myself, or maybe resign myself, that I was here and not in my beloved city, I was finally starting to unpack all of the boxes in my apartment. Going home at night to an apartment that actually looked like an apartment where someone would live was slowly helping my off-balance psyche.
I had also taken it upon myself to change both my cell number and my home number so that maybe Peter would get the hint and stop calling me to grovel. When I told a man to fuck off, I didn't mess around. I had seen countless girlfriends fold under the pressure of their cheating boyfriends and take them back and I had always scolded them for being weak. Well now that I was in the same position as them, I wasn't going to fall back on my word. Peter could go fall off the back of his stupid sailboat in the middle of the Hudson for all that I cared. The only thing preventing me from literally never speaking to Peter again is my aunt who remains convinced that I misinterpreted the scene that I walked in on when I caught him fucking someone else.
Yeah sure, no big deal. It's easy to mistake a scene when both people are naked and clearly performing an act that goes beyond the boundaries of friendship. I could have easily mistaken that for a friendly game of cards- or even Twister!
Suddenly I heard the door open with a bang as a tall figure filled the doorway.
I can feel my eyes narrow as he tells me "Sorry," shrugging and panting slightly while rubbing a hand over his curly wet hair.
"You're late" I snap looking down at my watch and noting that he is officially 20 minutes late. If I had had to wait any longer, I would have left for lunch just to show him that I won't wait around for his ass to show up to our meetings on time.
In the back of my mind, I understood that he had probably just come from practice but for some reason it was just easier to be mad at him than cut him a break.
Rather than argue with me or look more guilty, he fixes me with yet another stare that I can't interpret and takes a seat in one of the chairs situated in front of my desk. He's too large for the chair but manages to make himself look at home while waiting for me to say something.
Ironically, now that I've got him here, I have absolutely no idea what to say to him. Throughout my hectic week, I've completely neglected to actually think through what we would talk about or practice once he was here. Plus, I've never had to work with someone who wasn't completely fluent in English before so I feel like I've entered unchartered territory which I detest.
"Just one second, I need to find something" I lie through my teeth frantically opening a browsing window and going straight to Google's homepage. He nods looking around slowly at my office and eyeing the few pictures I've chosen to decorate my office with.
I don't know what I'm doing except for the fact that I'm panicking and typing in "How to teach English" and hitting the search bar. Yes, it's crazy, completely unprofessional and bordering on ridiculous but I feel as if I have no choice.
"You like this?" I hear him ask from across the room. He's standing in front of my old poster of Van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace at Night" that I found in a vintage store near NYU and have faithfully tacked up on walls ever since.
To anyone else it may have looked old, beat up and shabby but just looking at the swirls of paint on the poster was enough to take me away from any undesirable situation. Usually no one paid attention to it so now it was embarrassing to have to explain it to anyone who wouldn't understand the meaning it held for me.
"Um, yeah." I say unable to avoid the blush that takes over my cheeks. He looks at the poster again and I stare back down at my computer realizing that I'm not going to get anywhere by googling. Literally the one moment in my life when Google will not answer my questions.
"We start now, yes?" he asks taking a seat in front of me. He's getting impatient, I'm unprepared and overall, I believe that I can officially label this as the worst meeting I've ever been in. Why does every situation with him end up making me feel like an idiot??
"So, tell me about where you're from" I ask, the words spilling out of my mouth before I can think about it and my body acting on pure panic. I don't know what it is about this man that makes me forget everything that I'm about to say that's actually sensible.
"I don't understand" he asks shaking his head slightly and looking at me in confusion. Believe me buddy, I don't really understand why I'm asking you either. But hey, just talking to him can't hurt anything. Maybe we can practice his english just by talking rather than me trying to think of a formal way to work with him on his english.
"Tell me about your home" I pause trying to think of the best way for him to understand. "In Russia" I clarify.
He shifts looking at me for a moment before his face breaks out in a small grin. "Is cold" he replies grinning broadly now. I'm about to press him further about the state of the weather over there when he surprises me by adding: "Too cold for woman like you."
His smile is so distracting that I almost forget to question what he's just said about me. Something about that dopey grin almost makes me forget what we're here to do and suddenly I'm unsure of myself again.
"What do you mean by that?" I ask genuinely curious to know what he's implying. He didn't say it like it was offensive but I caught a twinkle in his eye that I didn't exactly trust.
"Well, you already cold. Would be too much for country to handle."
For a moment I can only stare as I process what he's just said to me. I'm in complete shock thanks to the big russian in front of me and the fact that even in his own accent ridden form of english, he's managed to tell me that essentially, I'm a frigid bitch. His deep chuckles bring me out of the temporary, offensive haze I'm in and I watch him laugh harder thoroughly enjoying the expression on my face.
"Sorry" he repeats for the second time today still grinning at me like we're both sharing a hilarious joke. "Was too easy" he explains shrugging and I have the urge to slap the smile off of his face.
"Well it would have to be easy, wouldn't it for your neanderthal brain to actually process the joke in the first place" I reply raising my eyebrow in what my friends in college used to call my 'bitch face.' Where does he get off implying that I'm cold? First of all, he doesn't even know me. Second of all, who is he to criticize me, an american woman for being cold, when russian women are notoriously cold?
He holds his hands up in front of him as if to protect himself from the tone of my voice and the grin is literally splitting his face now. I have absolutely no idea what I've done to make this man smile so much but I don't like it and I'm in no mood to be treated this way by a client.
"Come on, we go now" he instructs standing up and waiting for me patiently.
"Why the hell would I go anywhere with you right now?" I ask staring at him incredulously. "Now sit down, we need to get to work."
"Come on, you angry cause you hungry and I'm hungry. So let's go eat."
He says this like it's the most simple thing in the world but the fact that he's trying to boss me around irritates me. Besides, how does he know whether I'm hungry or not or if that would make me grumpy?
"Mr. Malkin, sit down" I tell him feeling very much like the 2nd grade teacher that I hated as a 7 year old.
"Вы очень упорный женщину" he mumbles rolling his eyes from his standing position high above me. As if on reflex, I stand up just so I don't have to crane my neck so much to look at him and so that I feel like less of a wimp around him.
"We go now?"
I take a second to marvel in how bull-headed and determined he is to get what he wants. I still don't understand why he's so eager to go somewhere with me- he must be starving if he's this eager to go do something with me.
"Come on" he says jerking his head in the direction of the door and holding out a hand for me to take. I remain skeptical staring at his outstretched hand not quite sure what to do.
Oh what the hell. This meeting has already gone horribly wrong and what's the worst that can happen now by grabbing a bite to eat with him? If anything, hopefully we'll make some headway on his english and work towards his conversational skills. That seems productive, right? And at least now I won't be hungry and have to leave work later to grab something to eat.
"Alright, let's go" I say grabbing my purse and ignoring his outstretched hand. No way in hell am I accepting that hand from him. Whatever the hell it means anyway.